European Vacation 2015 - Planning

In December I began planning for a long European vacation that would happen in June or July. I only had an outline of a plan.

- - Vacation should last approximately one month.
I figured a month was about as long as I could reasonably take away from my job. Since a big part of the expense of this vacation was going to be airfare to and from Europe, it seemed reasonable to stay as long as possible once we were there.

- - London was a 'must' destination.
We have good friends who live in Emsworth, UK and they had offered to put us up for at least a couple nights and show us around. Neither of us had ever visited the UK and London seemed like a great destination that would also let us spend some time with our friends.

- - Desire a mix of big city, mountains, and beach.
A month seemed like a long enough time to enjoy a nice bit of several things. My original vision was four major stops, with two cities, the beach on the French Riviera, and some time in the Alps.

- - Desire apartment rentals over hotel rooms.
We didn't want to have to organize laundry excursions so this was primarily for a washing machine. It was also so we could have some combination of better views and/or locations and also more space than the typical hotel room.